My Blog


Surprise! It’s a Sibling: Genetic Testing Can Reveal Unexpected Results – Many Unprepared for Fallout Over Family Secrets

The S.F. Chronicle ran a story in March about 3 siblings from the same sperm donor pool who inadvertently found each other via genetic testing. Today they ran a fascinating follow up article on several other Bay Area  folks who discovered/uncovered family secrets the same way. One is the oldest sibling of 6 who was adopted out before his parents got married and had 5 other children. Another is a woman who found she had two half brothers from the family her father abandoned before he married her mother. Another found the father she grew up with was not her biological father, revealing her mother had had an affair which she was the product of. Lots of skeletons are coming out of lots of closets, thanks to DNA testing! Many adoptees I work with are fearful of what they might find if/when they embark on this journey of discovery. “What if I find something ugly? Something that will forever change this version of me?” In my experience, both personally and professionally, the romantic Hollywood version of discoveries and reunions are quite rare. It’s usually complicated at best, and often disorienting. But I truly believe that the truth heals. The initial deceits and betrayals are the problem – not the unveiling of facts and facing them squarely. I read somewhere in adoption literature something to the effect of, “Everyone deserves to know the first chapter of their life”. Even if, maybe especially if, it’s not the pretty picture one might hope for. Courage is often the first step towards true healing. You can view the Chronicle article here



A few weeks ago I sprained my ankle. Far greater than the physical pain was the mental torment I put myself through. Once again I was reminded of the old adage, “Pain is mandatory, suffering is optional”. Mercifully, because I read about it and talk about it so much with clients, I was able to find more and more moments of relief through practicing what I preach. These were the moments I remembered to come back to the present moment. Admittedly, I spent a good deal of time in the past (how I could have/should have prevented this from happening), and projecting into the future (what will happen if it doesn’t heal, all the things I’ll have to miss, how hard it will be to do this, that and the other thing). But when I came back to the moment I realized that I was actually o.k. Uncomfortable maybe, limited in mobility, but really o.k.

During this same week I came across a quote that was a helpful reminder, and seemed to speak directly to my situation:

The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem. Theodore Isaac Rubin


Bitter Pill

There is a fascinating and alarming article in the New Yorker this week, that should be of great interest to anyone taking, or considering, psychotropic meds.  Bitter Pill, by Rachel Aviv, asks the question, “Why do we know so little about how to stop taking psychiatric drugs?” The answers are quite shocking.


Jamail Yogis Tweet

I’m not the retweeting type, but I just saw this by one of my favorite writers and have to paste it in.

We think of a day as good or bad but there are 86400 seconds in a day. Many thoughts rush by per-second. Take a mindful breath. Think of something you’re grateful for. Feel your feet on the ground. That was likely a good ten seconds. Try it again. A day is a string of moments.



I WILL BE COMPLETE by Glen David Gold

I just finished reading one of my top twenty favorite books of all time – and I’m so mesmerized I can’t think of what the other nineteen could be. Gold’s brilliant memoir of his dysfunctional childhood and complicated relationships on through his 30s, viewed through the lens of middle age, is deeply and sharply insightful. It’s shocking and riveting, while written with great humor and unique style. I suspect all who gravitate towards psychotherapy will resonate, at least to some degree. Suffice it to say, the writing is just so dang good! I rarely read books twice, but this may be an exception.



I’m very happy to get my first entry up in time to recommend an upcoming two day Expressive Arts and Drama Therapy workshop for adult adoptees. We’re so fortunate to have such a rare offering right here in the East Bay. The title of the workshop is Adoption Stories: Healing the Primal Wound, and will take place February 24&25. The facilitators are Amber Fields and Armand Volkas. Here are their bios, and you can find more at This is an opportunity not to be missed.

Amber Field is a Korean American transracial adoptee artist, teacher and healer. They are a Tamalpa Institute Associate Teacher of expressive arts and a musician who specializes in helping people free their voices. Amber also leads a training The Art of Solidarity that uses embodied arts practices to transform individuals and communities. They are passionate about helping adopted people explore their many feelings around adoption and find home within themselves.
Contact information: (415) 573-4092,

Armand Volkas is a psychotherapist and Registered Drama Therapist in private practice and Clinical Director of the Living Arts Counseling Center in Emeryville, California. He is a Board Certified Trainer in this discipline with The North American Drama Therapy Association. In addition, Armand is Associate Professor in the Counseling Psychology Program at California Institute of Integral Studies and Adjunct Professor at John F. Kennedy University, Sofia University, the Summer Peacebuilding Institute and the Canadian School of Peacebuilding. He has developed innovative programs using drama therapy and expressive arts therapies for social change, intercultural conflict transformation and peacebuilding.